Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Matthew 22:34-40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Greatest Commandment
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Isidor Isaac Rabi, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, was once asked how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She wasn’t so much interested in what he had learned that day, but she always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?”
“Asking good questions,” Rabi said, “made me become a scientist.”
In today’s scripture, a Pharisee who was an expert in the law asks Jesus a question. Even though the Pharisees’ motives may not have been the best—the question was to “test” Jesus, maybe to trip him up—it was still a really good question: “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (v. 36).
There were, of course, a lot of commandments to choose from. The view was that all the commandments were equal, with any ranking of them seen as the height of human arrogance. It was a trap as much as a “test.”
Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Both of these commandments are in the Hebrew Scriptures. After all, Jesus said he had not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it—or as someone has put it, to fill it full. In fulfilling, filling up, the law in this way, Jesus forever joined love for God and love for persons. All the law and the prophets—another way of saying “all the scriptures”—are summed up in these basics: love God and love your neighbor.
These words sum up Jesus’ teachings, too. Love for God and love for others is the very simple—though not always easy—call on our lives.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster